Raw Deal for Leo's Workers
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 02:09
The creation of the Center for Social Justice was one of the crowning achievements of former University President Fr. Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J. With that in mind, one wonders how O’Donovan would react to hearing that this university has tolerated injustices in the dining hall that bears his name.
From the day that Leo’s opened this semester, students have complained about cutbacks to the food selection and services. While those concerns are valid, they pale in comparison to recent revelations about the unfair treatment of dining hall employees. Forced shift changes, more demanding hours, worse food quality — these are just some of this summer’s alterations that have Leo’s workers feeling blindsided and betrayed.
ARAMARK Higher Education, the corporation that operates Georgetown’s dining services, is behind these changes. But the fact that the university is not responsible — or even directly in control of the situation — does not excuse it for turning a blind eye to the suffering of employees on its campus.
In their response to inquiries about Georgetown’s role in mediating the relationship between ARAMARK and workers, administrators ducked responsibility. Associate Vice President for Auxiliary Services Margie Bryant told The Hoya that ARAMARK is responsible for its own labor relations with employees (“Workers Speak Out Against Leo’s Changes,” A1).
But this is not an issue of legality or contract stipulations; it’s about a basic demand for justice on our campus. A university that urges students to be “men and women for others” has a moral responsibility to ensure that no worker on campus is treated with anything less than dignity and respect.
It’s unclear what exactly the relationship is between Dining Services workers’ unionization last spring and the food changes that were implemented at the beginning of the academic year. But the overarching message is clear: There are more things gone awry at Leo’s than its underwhelming supply of silverware, and both students and employees are counting on the university to step up and step in.